SPRINGFIELD -- A comprehensive concealed-carry gun bill fell seven votes short of passage Thursday night in the Illinois House, but was saved from defeat by a parliamentary maneuver.
The bill (HB997) needed 71 votes to pass and received only 64 votes. Forty-five lawmakers voted no.
But after the roll call was taken, sponsor Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, placed the measure on postponed consideration, keeping it alive for another vote.
Supporters, including Phelps, said they believed that earlier Thursday they had the votes to pass the bill, which was a response to a federal court order that Illinois pass a concealed carry bill by June 9.
"I think some people who would have voted yes voted no today just to send us back to the table to get more restrictions put in," said Rep. David Reis, R-Ste. Marie. "The were several there that should have voted yes, and told us they would, who didn't>
Phelps, when asked if he had been "betrayed," said yes.
"I don't want to give up names of colleagues but yes," he said. "I don't want to say all seven. There were some that I'm friends with that came over to me out of respect and said, "I was with you but I'm not going to be with you now."
Some of those lawmakers, he said, may be waiting to see if the Senate passes its own concealed carry law. The Senate is scheduled to be in Springfield next week, while the House is taking a one-week break.
"I still think that they think they have the whole month of May," said Phelps. "This is getting to the point where they'd better start doing something."
Phelps and other gun rights supporters noted, though, that they have the federal court order on their side.
"The main thing is this: you still have a court case that you have to deal with and June 9 is that cliff. So sooner or later they'd better get really serious because I don't think tonight they were serious," he said.
He said he would not give in on two key issues: a statewide concealed carry law with no opportunity for weaker local laws, and a shall-carry provision that would prevent local officials, such as county sheriffs, from deciding who has the right to carry.
"I don't know what else we can give on. We're not going to give up preemption. We're not going to give up shall-issue," he pledged.
In debate, Phelps called the measure "probably the strictest shall-issue bill in the country."
It required 10 hours of weapons training and payment of a $100 fee.
The legislation includes a long list of buildings and places where weapons could not be carried, including any university, college or community college building or real property.
It also included so-called "pass-through language," Phelps said, that would allow motorists to carry weapons in their car as they drive streets and highways that pass through campuses.
Generally weapons also would be prohibited in schools, day care centers, libraries, police stations, courthouses, bars, casinos, stadiums, amusement parks, casinos and other sites.
But concealed weapons would be allowed on mass transit, noted Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, an opponent of the measure.
"One major concern is that this bill widely expands the definition of a handgun. Under this bill a person could carry a handgun with a detachable high-capacity magaziner and a laser sight," she said. "This is not something I would want to see on a CTA train in my district.'
Concealed weapons also would be permitted on playgrounds, she said.
"More guns are not the answer to our gun problem in Chicago," Cassidy said. "Please, let's get to the table. Let's get to a solution that respects the differences between our communities. There is a solution and there is time. This isn't soup yet."
Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, said the Phelps bill "goes way too far. And I hate to say it but unfortunately I think that this will actually get worse in our state before it ever gets better."
He predicted more violence "when this becomes law than anyone would imagine. And I hope that we're prepared, as a matter of fact I hope we're willing to get up and give moments of silence to all the individuals that will probably get harmed as a result of this open and unabridged concealed carry that we're going to have in the state of Illinois."